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Book Information: Great Mirror of Male Love, the

Great Mirror of Male Love, the (1687) [Collection]
by Ihara Saikaku Rating: No votes (Rate!)
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Summary (From the publisher):

The first complete translation of Nanshoku okagami by Ihara Saikaku, this is a collection of 40 stories describing homosexual love affairs between samurai men and boys and between young kabuki actors and their middle-class patrons. Seventeenth-century Kyoto was the center of a flourishing publishing industry, and for the first time in Japan's history it became possible for writers to live exclusively on their earnings. Saikaku was the first to actually do so. As a popular writer, Saikaku wanted to entertain his readership. When he undertook the writing of Nanshoku okagami in 1687, it was with the express purpose of extending his readership and satisfying his ambition to be published in the three major cities of his day, Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo. He chose the topic of male homosexual love because it had the broadest appeal both to the samurai men of Edo and to the townsmen of Kyoto and Osaka, his regular audience. Homosexual relations between a man and a boy were a regular feature of premodern Japanese culture and carried no stigma. When a boy reached the age of nineteen, he underwent a coming-of-age ceremony, after which he took the adult role in relations with boys. The first twenty stories in Nansoku okagami feature boys from the samurai class whose lives exemplified the ideals of boy love; the second group of twenty stories shifts its focus to young kabuki actors who exemplified boy love in their own way, serving as prostitutes in the theater districts of the three major cities. The stories, which eschew the explicitly erotic, touch on many interesting aspects of life in premodern Japan, notably samurai connoisseurship of boy love, with its emphasis on loyalty between lover and beloved, the Buddhist tradition of love between priests and acolytes as a means of spiritual enlightenment, the life and pleasures of the urban classes, and the world of the kabuki theater.


  • Section One
    • Love: The Contest Between Two Forces
    • The ABCs of Boy Love
    • Within the Fence: Pine, Maple, and a Willow Waist
    • Love Letter Sent in a Sea Bass
    • Implicated by His Diamond Crest
  • Section Two
    • A Sword His Only Momento
    • Though Bearing an Umbrella, He Was Rained Upon
    • His Head Shaved on the Path of Dreams
    • Aloeswood Boy of the East
    • Nightingale in the Snow
  • Section Three
    • Grudge Provoked by a Sedge Hat
    • Tortured to Death with Snow on His Sleeve
    • The Sword That Survived Love's Flames
    • The Sickbed No Medicine Could Cure
    • He Fell in Love When the Mountain Rose Was in Bloom
  • Section Four
    • Drowned by Love in Winecups of Pearly Nautilus Shells
    • The Boy Who Sacrificed His Life in the Robes of His Lover
    • They Waited Three Years to Die
    • Two Old Cherry Trees Still in Bloom
    • Handsome Youths Having Fun Cause Trouble for a Temple
  • Section Five
    • Tears in a Paper Shop
    • He Pleaded for His Life a Mitsudera Hachiman
    • Love's Flame Kindled by a Flint Seller
    • Visiting from Edo, Suddenly a Monk
    • Votive Picture of Kichiya Riding a Horse
  • Section Six
    • A Huge Winecup Overflowing With Love
    • Kozakura's Figure: Grafted Branches of a Cherry Tree
    • The Man Who Resented Another's Shouts
    • A Secret Visit Leads to the Wrong Bed
    • A Terrible Shame He Never Performed in the Capital
  • Section Seven
    • Fireflies Also Work Their Asses at Night
    • An Onnagata's Tosa Dairy
    • An Unworn Robe to Remember Him by
    • Bamboo Clappers Strike the Hateful Number
    • Nails Hammered into an Amateur Painting
  • Section Eight
    • A Verse Sung by a Goblin with a Beautiful Voice
    • Siamese Roosters and the Reluctant Farewell
    • Loved by a Man in a Box
    • The Koyama Barrier Keeper
    • Who Wears the Incense Graph Dyed in Her Heart?

Original title: Nanshoku okagami
Original languages: Japanese


Genre: FictionGeneral Fiction
FictionGay & LesbianGay Male

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Edition #1: The Great Mirror of Male Love

The Great Mirror of Male Love (1990)
Edition Details:

Language: English

Translated by: Paul Gordon Schalow
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Manifested in:

Great Mirror of Male Love, the (1990)

Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Stanford University Press
ISBN: 0804716617
Dimensions: 5.4 x 8.6 x 1.2
Pages: 384

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